Things I’m looking for in a bank

Posted by kdow on Nov 22, 2017 2:31:25 PM

Photo by Fabian Blank on  Unsplash

I’ve been with the same bank for a few years now, and before that I was with the same bank for years. And now I’m researching a switch to a new bank, because my current one is so slow to move. And by move, I mean “catch up” to offers from other banks.

To be clear, some facts about me (that are relevant to a bank) include being married, being a reasonably high earner, with house-deposit levels of savings, relatively cautious investor, I’ve house insurance, have no debt & don’t over-spend monthly and am tech-savvy.

My current bank issues Visa as it’s primary card for both debit & credit. Which means that I get no offers/deals/perks for using them. I don’t really use either card that often, but I’d consider it if the weekly shopping spend on a credit card got my air miles.

My debit card is associated to my current account, which is (mostly) dormant because of my travel schedule. My monthly spending money goes into an N26 debit card, which offers no currency conversion and an app to easily track when transactions happen. This is actually quite a big deal for me as I can change settings (e.g. how much can be taken off the card in a single transaction), get notifications when transactions occur, etc. on the fly.

Unfortunately, N26 doesn’t offer savings or credit in Ireland so I can’t go “all in” just yet. But there are options available.

But when I’m looking at bank accounts and comparing the landscape in Ireland (which is rather bleak!) there are features that keep coming up:

  • A good online experience. This will be my main interaction with the bank, so the online UX needs to be great. I will rarely ever speak to a bank teller in-person.
  • A great app. I’ll do most transactions through my phone, so having a world class experience within iOS is critical.
  • Low fees. I’ll get paid into my primary account so I skip most bank fees, but in Ireland certain banks seem hell-bent on penny pinching customers with ATM fees, currency conversion fees, etc.
  • Apple Pay. My bank today doesn’t have it, and N26 is looking to introduce it in Ireland next year. But my life would be made infinitely easier if I could pay by phone/watch instead of carrying a card around. Most transactions on my card are small anyway (coffees, small grocery items, etc.) so it’d be ideal for someone like me.
  • A good credit card. My card is rarely used for important things. It’s actually mostly there for buying stuff online, and things that’ll be expensed through work. So it would be nice to have some scheme where I earn air miles or something for using the card. I’ve never been in CC debt, so I’m a good citizen in that regard.
  • A future plan. A bank should be a long-term partner. My current one doesn’t feel like that. I’m exactly the ideal customer. I earn a good salary and have low outgoings (low rent, no children yet, etc.) so it’s pretty obvious I’ll be knocking on the door for a mortgage & car loan in the coming years.

I don’t think any of this is revolutionary. But the banking industry is finding it difficult to be in any way, shape or form revolutionised. It’s pretty frustrating as a user. I’d love for N26 to offer credit & savings accounts in Ireland. But for those curious, my current leading prospective bank is KBC.